Time To Retreat by Kathleen McAnear Smith


Amy Boucher-Pye stood up on stage and placed her Bible on top of the podium. She looked out at us, the attendees of the Woman Alive one day gathering in Woking. As you can imagine, this was pre-pandemic and the church sanctuary was packed. 

Amy introduced something new-to-me, a practice I have followed ever since; Lectio Davina. We took a Scripture and placed ourselves among the words, and after several times of slowly saying the passage aloud or in our prayer; the heart felt word of God went from our packed little heads to our over burdened hearts. 

To my mind, this is a key purpose for taking time away from the world. I want to focus on what God has to say in this season. 

Things are a little different now. We’ve all been away from the world quite a bit, whatever our focus. So in this “emerging season” as I call this time of crawling out of hibernation, I’ve been looking at ways of enjoying a retreat that connects with others who want to sharpen their focus on whatever it is Father God is inviting us to- this time.

As I’ve walked in isolation and talked with my Lord, I have heard Him say “I want you to want something, something from Me. Ask Me. Invite me into something.”

So I signed up for a couple of one day on-line retreats and set up my table in the conservatory. Flowers starting to bloom out the window, veg boxes planted (not by me), and snacks prepared. Art materials near by. Music on tap. Zoom links to people around the world who also felt this was a time to retreat from normal work and see or hear what the Holy Spirit might be inviting us to, in this season. 

Next weekend I’ll be leading an online retreat (this is not advertising as membership is closed), where we are retreating with the specific purpose of asking God to help us receive His invitations. I want to respond to His invitations, not just run out in our new freedom of curb side cafes. 

Recalling a Big Invitation is a Saturday night feast where retreat participants prepare a “charcuterie “ or table of tapas of favourite food items in the country where we live. I’m longing to see the table ( Okay, via Zoom still) in Morocco. And Portugal. And I’ve been running around Sainsbury’s to put together a good English spread.  It’s a reminder of the amazing invitation to the feast of all time.  It gets the Words from my head to the heart of the matter. 

And so I now take this living parable and read slowly, just as Amy taught, the Words of an amazing invitation:

Matthew 22: 1-2 (NIV)

Jesus spoke to them saying in parables, saying The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for His son.

Matthew 22:1-2 (NLT) Jesus also told them other parables. He said, “The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of a king who prepared a great wedding feast for his son.

Matthew 22: 1-2 (Holman ) : Once more, Jesus spoke to them in parables. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding banquet for his son. 

Father God: Thank you for the rising number of online retreats where we may gather with others, encouraging our focus on your invitation to us this season. May we not miss a single invitation from You. In Jesus’s Name. Amen.

And PS, Lord, I am longing to attend IN PERSON, an ACW Writer’s Retreat. ( Just asking )

Kathleen has written three books and a number of magazine articles, and is writing her first novel. She lives in the Surrey Hills and while she loves the forest, she is longing to get to the beach this summer! She also has a Master’s in Social Policy and Cert. in Theology and Chaplaincy from Spurgeon’s College, London.


  1. This is very interesting, Kathleen. The Lectio Davina method of studying the Bible sounds a little similar to the Bible meditations we employ as part of our Lydia prayer for the nations sessions. I have received some very rich thoughts from God in doing this which have really inspired my faith. Thanks for sharing. I'd love to do a retreat sometime.

  2. Thoughtful and interesting. I'm sure your retreat will be richly blessed.

  3. A big AMEN to your prayers that we never miss an invitation from God and that ACW will ondeauy organise retreats. Enjoyed the memory of the wedding feast parable. Thanks for this. Love from Sophia!

  4. What a wonderful thing to do, Kathleen

  5. Interesting how Lectio Divina is spreading: I'm just trying to think where I first met this. Possibly when we had a 'Spirituality Group' at the parish church we attended, led by our Assistant Priest who was very much 'Anglo-Catholic'. But I've noticed how it's being taken up by a broad spectrum of Christian denominations. As it spreads, it does also vary, slightly, but maintains the essential 'listening to God/the Holy Spirit'. We have practiced for a while with another couple who are close friends, at present on FaceTime, and have previously done so with a small group from that same Parish Church. I hope the planned Retreat goes well, sounds like a proper 'retreat' from everything except being with God and a few like-minded people. Another name for LD is 'dwelling in the Word', which is what our present church calls it.

  6. I have done this before, but years ago, and it is indeed such a helpful practice. Thank you for reminding me about it, Kathleen 🙂


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